18 January 2006

Ukraine Last Week, January 9-15

The Central Election Commission announced that 45 party blocs are officially registered for the parliamentary elections in March and consequently many issues have to be resolved. Among these is the design of the ballots themselves which are now projected to be 80 cm long. 250 deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, back from their holidays, voted for the dismissal of PM Yurij Yekhanurov and the Cabinet of Ministers due to their handling of the gas supply negotiations with the Russia. President Yushchenko, in Kazakhstan at the time, decided not to shorten his trip and return to Ukraine downplaying reports of a “political crisis”. He then decreed the year 2006 to be the “Year of Kazakhstan In Ukraine”. In a call-in show on Radio-ERA, 1230 callers were against the dismissal of government 211 were for it. Yekhanurov first stated he is Vykonuyuchij Obovjaskiv (Acting) Prime Minister later retracted his statement claiming the VR acted unconstitutionally and he was in fact still the Prime Minister and the Cabinet was still the Cabinet. Meanwhile the chief lawyer of Ukraine, Minister of Justice Serhiy Holovaty, informed us that there were, in fact, legal porushennia u rehlamenti (procedural violations) by Speaker Lytvyn while conducting the vote. On top of that there is currently no legislative base in place which allows the VR to form a new Cabinet. Of course Holovaty was one of the guys that was fired. Yushchenko appealed to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine to rule the VR decision unconstitutional only this court is short judges because new ones haven’t been approved yet by the VR. An AN-24 passenger plane was forced to do an emergency landing in Kharkiv because of a smashed windshield. No one was injured. A law was passed that requires 20% of the blockbuster movies shown in Ukrainian theaters to be dubbed in Ukrainian. The week progressed and Yulia continued to take heat for teaming up with Yanukovych and the Commies to further her personal, political ambitions above the interests of Ukraine. Moroz said “At this critical moment of negotiations with Russia the people of Ukraine are looking to their government for unified leadership not for a political show”. Lutsenko said he considered the VR’s actions as treason against the national interests and security of Ukraine and would like to bring those responsible up on criminal charges. Seven more miners were buried alive. Rescue crews went to work. The EC in Brussels acknowledged the legitimacy of Yekhanurov and the Cabinet of Ministers even after the VR vote. In neighboring Russia, a knife-wielding assailant stabbed 11 people in a synagogue in Moscow. A few days later, in Rostov-on-Don a 19-year old medical student attacked worshippers in a synagogue with a broken glass bottle after a chat with his rabbi. In a chat with journalists broadcast on all Ukrainian TV channels, late Friday night, Yushchenko criticized the moves of those behind the VR’s recent decision and explained his view of the gas situation with Russia. Also on Friday there were sensationalist, eyewitness accounts of Ukrainian military units seen assembling in the Obolon region of Kyiv near Moskovsky Bridge. On Saturday Yushchenko said he will call for a national referendum on the issue of Constitutional Reform in Ukraine. “Do the people want the government of their country changing with every whim of the VR?” Also, Yushchenko rescinded his signature and terminated the memorandum with Yanukovych stating that Victor Fyodorovych had not complied with the terms. Forbes magazine in its 2005 recap listed “Billionaires of the World”. Weighing in at $2.4 billion was our very own Rhinat Akhmetov (258th place). Also on the list at a humble $1.3 billion was Victor Pinchuk (507th place). More on the gas thing surfaced when Minister of Energy, Ivan Plachkov, stated that Yulia had setup a Delaware based company to transport Turkmenistan oil. Now that Ukraine will not be buying Turkmenistan oil she has been cut out of the proverbial loop. Meanwhile, Ukrainian researchers have developed green pigs. One could see them on TV. They were…green. At a Zoo in Northwestern Ukraine a 12-year old boy decided to jump the fence and feed crackers to a brown bear that proceeded to bite both the boy’s hands and arms off at his elbows. In Nahirsti, Lviv a four-year-old child was killed and five adults injured when the driver of their Mercedes mini-bus lost control and rolled it in a ditch. The Fitch rating agency lowered Ukraine’s rating from “positive” to “stable” and Standard & Poor’s left its rating at “stable”. The long-awaited Gongadze trial opened with one of the three defendants, Mykola Protasov being rushed off in an ambulance, for high blood pressure, resulting in a postponement of the hearing until January 23rd. The alleged murderers did not enter their pleas during the proceedings. In Mukachevo, people gathered from all over to partake in the grape at the annual festival of red wine. Meanwhile, President Yushchenko announced that Ukraine should prepare its own nuke fuel instead of selling the raw Uranium to the Russians and buying it back after enrichment. This, of course, raised press eyebrows around the world. Finally, Ukrainians occupied a lighthouse in Yalta and the Russian black sea fleet commander claims it’s his. No it’s not. Yes it is. No it’s not.

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